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OCZ Vector 256GB SSD Review

Posted 27 November 2012 18:56 CET by Wendy Robertson

I/O Performance

There is little point of having an SSD drive that has blazing sustained reading and writing speeds, if the drive can't handle reading and writing of small random files. If you intend to use your new SSD drive to store and run your operating system, then the drive must be able to cope with the many small random files that Windows will write to the drive continually. So I feel it is very important to test how many of these random files that a drive can handle in one second. I believe that anything over 1,000 I/O’s per second would be enough for most users running a consumer grade mainstream PC, and should provide a smooth running system. But obviously, the more I/O's that a drive can handle, the faster the drive will feel and leave more headroom for those huge multitasking sessions that users sometimes engage in.

The things that I will look at are the total I/O per second and total MB/s.

Partition alignment and sector boundaries

Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista will automatically align a partition to 4k boundaries during partition creation, Windows XP won’t. It is imperative that an SSD’s partition is aligned. Windows XP is also restricted to sector boundaries, while Windows 7 and 8 will use 4k boundaries if it can. The OCZ Vector series is 4k boundary aware, and will use these boundaries if possible. Of course it will also remap LBAs for compatibility with the sector boundaries so that the drive can be used with Windows XP.

IOMeter allows us to set the sector boundaries for conducting the tests, and I have therefore set the sector boundaries at 4K, which means the IOMeter tests are valid for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows Vista users. XP users will not be able to obtain such results.

I will provide a screenshot of the tests on the review drive for those of you who like to see the actual test result. All the comparison drive results are represented in the form of graphs.

If any of you would like to see a screenshot from any IOMeter test on a particular drive, please feel free to request one, and I’ll post the screenshot in the forum thread.

All the IOMeter tests create a 10GB data set on the target drive, and each test is run for a duration of 3 minutes.


IOMeter 4K random write test with repeating data.

The first test involves creating continual 4KB random files on the target drive with IOMeter. I use a 4KB file size, as it is believed that Windows will create and modify many of this size of file constantly in the background during a typical Windows session. It is said that most 4K random writes take place at a queue depth of only one, and I have been requested to include this test in my reviews.

Queue depth 1

OCZ Vector series SSD – 4K random write (QD1)

At 151.24 MB/s the OCZ Vector series is showing excellent performance at this queue depth, and is the second fastest SSD in this test.

Our next test involves creating continual 4KB random files on the target drive with IOMeter. I use a 4KB file size, as it is believed that Windows will create and modify many of this size of file constantly in the background during a typical Windows session. I will use queue depths of 4 and 32 for these tests.

Queue depth 4

OCZ Vector series (Queue depth 4)

At a queue depth of 4, the OCZ Vector gets its skates on, and is the fastest drive in this test.

Queue depth 32

OCZ Vector series (Queue depth 32)

Once again the OCZ Vector is out in front with a massively impressive 377.55 MB/s in this test.


IOMeter 4K random write test with fully random data.

This test is exactly the same as the test above except that the test data is fully random and is therefore much more difficult to compress. This test was requested as SandForce based SSDs gain a lot of performance by being able to compress data on the fly. While the above test shows the SandForce based SSDs in a best case scenario, the following test will show the SandForce based SSDs in a much more realistic scenario.

Queue depth 4

OCZ Vector series SSD – 4K random write (QD4 with fully random data)

The OCZ Vector pays no penalty when writing data which is incompressible, and is once again the fastest SSD in this test.


4K random write queue depth profile

For this test I used various queue depths from 1 – 32 to give you an idea how this SSD performs at different queue depths. For a normal desktop user for lightweight multitasking, the queue depth will rarely rise above 2. For heavy multitasking, the queue depth is unlikely to rise above a value of 8.

The results are shown below.

Just like the previous generation SSD the OCZ Vertex 4, the OCZ Vector reaches very high performance at very low queue depths, and doesn't stop there, it gets faster and faster as queue depths rise.

Below I present a table of the results in more detail.


IOMeter 4K random read test.

If there are many 4k files created, then that must also mean that many 4k files need to be read. This test measures 4k reading performance.

It is said that most 4K random reads take place at a queue depth of only one, and readers have requested that I include this test in my reviews.

Queue depth 1

OCZ Vector series SSD (Queue depth 1)

The OCZ Vector series is performing extremely well in this test, and finishes in fourth place.

Queue depth 4

OCZ Vector series SSD (Queue depth 4)

With a slightly higher queue depth the Vector is not scaling as well as it might, and finishes the test in the middle of the pack.

Queue depth 32

OCZ Vector series SSD (Queue depth 32)

If the OCZ Vector was slightly disappointing at a queue depth of 4, it has certainly made up for it at a queue depth of 32. The Vector is a long way in front, and is the first SATA based SSD to reach over 400 MB/s in this test.

4K random read queue depth profile.

This test shows how the review drive scales with increasing queue depths.

Below I present a table of the results in more detail.

If we look at the OCZ Vector series 4K random read performance in detail, we can see that up to queue depth 2, the Vector is scaling perfectly, it then takes a dip at queue depth 3, and it's not until it's at queue depth 8 that it recovers that excellent scaling. Now, it could be that the firmware needs a little tweaking, or it could be just a characteristic of the Vector's performance profile. In either case, even with the dip at queue depth 3 and 4, for a desktop PC user, this should never be noticeable in the real world.


IOMeter 512KB write test with repeating data.

Sequential writing performance is also very important; in this test sequential writing performance is measured.

OCZ Vector series 512K Sequential write with repeating data

The OCZ Vector series has excellent sequential writing speed, and even with data that is easily compressible by the SandForce based SSDs, the OCZ Vector is still the fastest SSD in this test.

IOMeter 512KB sequential write test with fully random data.

This test is exactly the same as the test above except that the test data is fully random in nature. This test was requested as SandForce based SSDs gain a lot of performance by being able to compress data on the fly. While the above test shows the SandForce based SSDs in a best case scenario, the following test will show the SandForce based SSDs in a more realistic light. In the real world, the data is neither 100% incompressible nor 100% compressible, it is somewhere in between. So please keep this in mind.

OCZ Vector series SSD – 512K sequential write with fully random data

With data that is not so easy to compress, the SandForce SF-2281 based SSDs take a big hit in performance. On the other hand, the OCZ Vector series is performing extremely well, and is by quite some margin the fastest SSD in this test.


IOMeter 512KB sequential read test QD1.

This test measures 512k sequential reading performance at very low queue depths.

OCZ Vector series SSD – 512K sequential reading test QD1

The OCZ Vector series has exceptional sequential reading performance at very low queue depths, and is once again the fastest SSD.

IOMeter 512KB sequential read test (dual threaded).

This test measures 512k sequential reading performance QD2.

OCZ Vector series SSD – 512K sequential reading test QD2

At a more realistic queue depth the OCZ Vector series is still showing excellent sequential reading performance, and is marginally the fastest SSD in this test.


IOMeter Workstation simulation (outstanding I/Os = 64).

When running applications you will find that there is a mixture of small random files, and larger sequential files, being created and read. Not only that, it isn’t just one file at a time. In this test I measure a simulated workstation pattern, with a queue depth of 64 (threaded).

OCZ Vector series SSD – Workstation simulation

As I said at the start of this article, OCZ are aiming the Vector at the high end consumer and workstation market. In the IOMeter workstation simulation, the OCZ Vector is showing massively good performance, and is very comfortably faster than any other SSD in this test, even crunching its OCZ stable mate, the Vertex 4.


Summary

Overall the OCZ Vector series SSD is giving excellent performance, and in most of these IOMeter tests it is the fastest SATA SSD I have tested. Low queue depth performance in most parts is excellent, and at higher queue depths it pulls further and further ahead in most of these tests.

 

Now let’s head to the next page where we will look at how the OCZ Vector series SSD performs using a brand new benchmarking application....

 

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